Source: Autonopedia http://autonopedia.org/crafts_and_technology/Metal_work/The_Blacksmith/TheBlacksmithsEquipment.html
A good quality anvil is made of wrought iron or steel with a hardened steel top and is well worth the extra cost. Working on a bad anvil is like jumping on a heap of sand, whereas working on a good anvil set on a proper foundation is like jumping on a springboard-the rebound from one blow helps towards the next. Anvil patterns may vary for different purposes, but for general work it should have a long and finely tapered bick as shown in diagram to the right which is a `London Pattern' anvil standing on a welded angle steel stand.
Although the face or top of the anvil is hardened, the bick and table, which is the square part between the hick and the face, are usually left soft. When cutting off with a chisel, the work should always be moved to the table before the final blow to avoid damaging the chisel edge. On a new anvil the front and hack edges of the face .ire left sharp and it is advisable to round these offcarefully with a carborundum file or a portable grinder.
There are two holes in the face of an anvil; the square or hardy hole and the round or punching hole. It is a good plan to chamfer the edges of the square hole so that the hardy sits tight to the anvil face, this is also a convenience when using the hole for setting slightly curved bars. The liveliness or spring of' an anvil is much improved by mounting it on a wooden block, preferably made from a squared-up trunk of elm. This should he sunk at least 3' into the ground with the grain standing vertically. The disadvantage of setting up an anvil like this in the modern agricultural engineering shop is that the block cannot be moved out of' the way. It may he more convenient to have a fabricated steel or cast-iron stand hut, where space permits, it is a distinct advantage to have a wooden block.
Examples of Hold-Downs
This type of hold down is very
effective. It is easy to apply
and easy to release. Simply
set it on the piece to be held
down and tap it with the
hammer. Another tap releases
it. These types of hold downs
are most useful for holding flat
stock on the face of the anvil.
Spring loaded hold down tool
from Bear Hill Blacksmith
Tips For Buying Used Anvils (from Squidoo)
There are a few subtle things to look for when anvil shopping.
Anvils vary quite a bit in price, anywhere from a quarter to 3 bucks per pound. A few decades ago, about $1 per pound was pretty standard. These days however, prices are kind of all over the place. It really is a question of the individuals involved in the sale, and whose the better negotiator. I heard of a few friends, that have paid considerably less that $1 per pound, some other friends who've gotten anvils donated to them for free, and some less fortunate friends, that have paid over $2 a pound. Now, for brand new anvils your going to pay around the five or six dollar per pound mark.
The important thing about buying used anvils, is having a sharp eye and know how for a quality anvil. Small chinks, pits in a used Anvil are to be expected. They're not a huge deal. Watch out for cracks, or extra large divots. Wrought iron is a good material for the anvil body. Steel is fine as well, and be sure to look for a face that is composed of hard steel. If you see an anvil made of cast iron, run away as fast as you can. Don't even consider buying one. You'll want an anvil with a good bounce. Your hammer should bounce quickly off a good anvil. If an anvil has been mounted properly, they will have a nice ring sound to them. If they're not clamped down properly, you won't get the same sound. The smaller the anvils (say less than 100lb) will have a very piercing ring, while a 300 plus pound anvil will produce a much more subdued ring. The heal of an anvil, as well as the horn, will produce a lounder ring. An anvil with a bad crack (or even not so bad crack), will not produce a good ringing sound.
The new anvils of the farrier style (longer heal and horn) that have a small waist and curved base are for lighter work. Tweaking or making slight adjustments to pre manufactured horseshoes would be one such suitable task. Don't use them for creating new horseshoes, or heavier duty blacksmith work. One advantage of farrier anvils is portability. Just be aware of their limitations. If you plan on doing heavy and frequent blacksmith work, don't buy any anvil less than 200 pounds. Otherwise, you just end up replacing your anvil within a year or less.
Knowing when to replace your anvil, is a valuable skill when it comes to looking at used anvils as well. You'll know what to watch out for. If your anvil face is so sway backed, that you can tell just by looking at it, then it's time to start shopping. Stress cracks are a sure sign to consider replacing your anvil as well. If larger pieces start to easily break off your anvil, it becomes a safety issue, and should be replaced right away.Anvil Stands
Most people build their own and all of them are unique in one way or another. However all of them fall into one or more categories:
- Tripod (usually steel with welded legs filled with lead shot or sand.)
- Sturdy table (welded steel or thick hardwood)
- Box or barrel filled with sand (the anvil rests on a steel or wooden base, which sits on top of the sand. add or remove sand to change height. plywood boxes are often tapered towards the top, but even a metal trashcan will work.)
- Laminated wood (stacked or vertical)
- Large timber post (dig a big hole, drop in a big square post, replace dirt, trim to proper height.)
- Welded steel 3-sided box (four big pieces of 1" steel welded together to make a 3-sided box with a top. this gives you solid support while the open space allows you to stand closer to the anvil.)
- The Stump (it's a fat short log) (edit: in case anyone was wondering, all of these images and more can be found by searching Google for "anvil stand" then clicking on images.)
Gee Mom, look what else I've found!
- Anvils: A beginner Buyers Guide
- The Quick and Dirty on Anvils
- Anvil Height and Striking Techniques
- Blacksmith Tools: Hold Down For Holding Work on Anvil
- Hold down for hot chisel work on the anvil
- Blacksmithing Tools Making An Anvil Hold Down
- Vice-grip hold down
- Rich Waugh's blacksmith's anvil hold-down tool
- Anvils and Anvil Types
- Anvil "mushroom" hold down
- Nimbus Anvils
- Fontanini Anvil and Tool
- Pieh Tool Company
"We all do better when we all do better."